About The Center for Process Studies

Our Mission

Driven by the principle of relationality and commitment to the common good, the Center for Process Studies (CPS) works on cutting edge discourse across disciplines to promote the exploration of interconnection, change, and intrinsic value as core features of our world.

As a faculty-based research center at Claremont School of Theology (CST), CPS conducts research and develops educational resources that explore the implications of these principles on a range of topics (e.g. science, ecology, culture, philosophy, religion, education, psychology, political theory, etc.) in a unique transdisciplinary style that harmonizes fragmented disciplinary thinking in order to develop integrated and holistic modes of understanding.

The CPS mission is carried out through academic conferences, courses, and seminars, a robust visiting scholars program, the world’s largest library related to process-relational writings, and an array of publications (including a peer-reviewed journal and a number of active books series).

Influenced by the work of Alfred North Whitehead and John B. Cobb, Jr., CPS is dedicated to the expansive exploration of ever-new sectors of academia and society through the transformative and ever-transforming tradition of process thinking. Process thinkers engage many different religious traditions and non-religious worldviews, working to both create positive social change and protect the natural environment. Among the Center’s publications are: Process Studies, the leading refereed journal in the field; Process Perspectives, a popular newsmagazine; and multiple series of books and publications stemming from its various projects.

Through seminars, conferences, publications, a library/archive, and visiting scholars program, the Center for Process Studies encourages research on the form of process thought which received its primary impetus from philosophers Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) and Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000).

CPS contributes to the development of a new cultural paradigm of systematic metaphysics influenced by a relational worldview. As a resource for scholars and professionals, CPS coordinates multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary research on pressing issues while seeking to avoid the inertia and limitations of segregated university disciplines. Where other new paradigm institutes focus on singular issues—like ecology, agriculture, feminism, race and class, decentralized political economic theory, or appropriate technology—a typical process focus is to integrate these issues through a non-dualistic worldview applicable to a wide range of issues.

Deeply appreciative of the natural sciences, process philosophy uniquely integrates science, religion, ethics, and aesthetics. It portrays the cosmos as an organic whole analyzable into internally related processes. In this way process thought offers a postmodern alternative to the mechanistic model that still influences much scientific work and is presupposed in much humanistic literature. The relational process perspective deals with multicultural, feminist, ecological, inter-religious, political, philosophical, and economic issues. Process thought provides a basis for discussion between Eastern and Western religious and cultural traditions. It offers an agenda on the social, political, and economic order that brings issues of human justice together with a concern for ecology. In these and other ways, process thinkers hope to contribute to those movements that will carry the world beyond war, injustice, and despair.

CPS Color Logo@2x-100

Alfred North Whitehead


John B. Cobb, Jr.

Our History

Founded in 1973 by John B. Cobb, Jr. and David Ray Griffin as a faculty center of Claremont School of Theology (CST) in affiliation with Claremont Graduate University (CGU), the Center for Process Studies was established to conduct research and promote understanding of a process relational worldview.

CPS was among the oldest and largest faculty centers at CST. Since its creation more than 50 years ago, CPS served as an integral part of the CST identity. This has manifested in ways far beyond CST faculty and students taking interest in Christian process theology. The very intellectual life of CST has been deeply intertwined with CPS research and programming.

CST is known for its leadership in interfaith dialogue. This is due, in large part, to the work of CPS. The Cobb-Abe exchanges provided an early model for Christian-Buddhist dialogue. And in the 1970s CPS organized a number of conferences engaging with Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese religions, and even Mormonism. In the 80s and 90s, CPS work on religious pluralism grew out of this interreligious stream, helping to make Claremont synonymous with interfaith dialogue and deep religious pluralism. All this contributed to the foundation of CST's leadership and legacy in interfaith dialogue--a core part of the CST identity still today.

CST was also at the forefront of science and religion dialogues. Whereas faith and science were at odds in many seminaries, CST promoted ways of being religiously committed that are compatible with modern intuitions and scientific insights. This work was initiated by a CPS conference on modern science in 1974. Soon after, CPS organized a series of conferences on physiological psychology and neuroscience, before bringing world-famous physicists like David Bohm, and biologists like Lynn Margolis to Claremont in the 1980s. This legacy continues today, having attracted science and religion experts like Philip Clayton to the CST faculty.

Perhaps more than anything, CST is known for being a global leader in progressive theological education where all people are welcome. CPS contributed to this identity as well, helping to establish the field of eco-theology in the 1970s, and holding major conferences on feminism, post-patriarchy, and sexuality in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Such visionaries like Rosemary Radford Reuther, Marjorie Suchocki, Mary Elizabeth Moore, Catherine Keller, and Monica Coleman, were all part of CPS at CST.

Over the years, CST faculty members that shared a vested interest in the work of CPS were invited to formally serve as faculty co-directors. Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki became a co-director in 1990. Philip Clayton became a co-director in fall 2003. Roland Faber became a co-director in January 2006, and Monica A. Coleman became a co-director in fall 2008. Of course many other faculty, staff, and students in Claremont played vital leadership roles at CPS over the years. Some of those include Mary Elizabeth Moore, Bill Stegall, Judy Casanova, Will Beardslee, Jay McDaniel, Catherine Keller, Jeanyne Slettom, John Sweeney, John Quiring, and many more than could be named here. In fall 2013, Wm Andrew Schwartz (a PhD student at the time) was appointed as Managing Director of CPS. In this capacity, he played a central role in organizing the 2000-person "Seizing Alternative" conference in June 2015. Upon completion of his PhD in fall 2016 Schwartz was appointed as Executive Director of CPS.

In summer of 2020, CPS relocated to Salem, OR as part of a first wave of CST programs that were to become part of Willamette University (WU). This left a process-sized hole in Claremont, out of which the Cobb Institute was born. Unfortunately, CST's integration with Willamette University was never realized. At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, the affiliation between CST and WU was ended. Forced to move from the WU campus, CPS (and especially our library/archives) needed a new home. In August 2022, CPS relocated again to St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Milwaukie, OR (roughly 15 minutes from downtown Portland, OR).

Over the course of its 50 year history, CPS evolved. What started as a modest faculty project in the early 70s became the hub of a global movement that includes more than 45 process centers and nonprofits around the world, led by process scholars on 6 continents. A new organizational structure was needed to match this new role. In the words of one CPS advisor, "You're 50 years old; it's time to get out of your parent's basement!" 

So, on May 15, 2023 the CST Board of Trustees approved a proposal that enabled CPS to establish itself as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit. And now it is! This restructuring empowers CPS to better collaborate with the other process centers in China, to enter into new collaborations with other schools, nonprofits, and relevant entities, and to grow into its role as a global leader of the process movement. It's with excitement that we move into the next 50 years as a nonprofit think-tank that conducts research and develops educational resources on holistic thinking for the advancement of social and environmental wellbeing (a.k.a. process thought for an ecological civilization).